Posted Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, at 12:27 PM
piece on the forgotten vaudeville great Eva Tanguay ("
"), I argue that "today's pop feels more than ever like one big reiteration of Tanguay's career," and that the divas who dominate the
charts are Tanguay's spiritual heirs. But it had somehow escaped my attention, in several years of researching and obsessing over Tanguay, that the pre-pubescent Britney Spears had belted out the vaudevillian's career-making signature number "I Don't Care" in a talent show performance immortalized on VH-1's
. (Big hat tip to
listener Chris Barker for bringing this to my attention.) Britney's brassy, big band-style "I Don't Care" is clearly less indebted to Tanguay herself than to
in the 1949 MGM musical
. Still, it's pleasant to contemplate the cosmic symmetry of our own millennial "I Don't Care Girl" blasting out Eva's proto-feminist anthem from 1904. And by the way, Britney sounds in better voice here than she has at anytime since.